Home    About    Donate    Aspirations    Contact     

About the Endowment


Mission Statement

The Southwest Buddhafield Endowment Fund was conceived to provide significant help with the annual operating costs of The Garchen Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious organization in Chino Valley, Arizona, and thereby contribute to the Institute's long-range financial solvency.

The Garchen Institute was established via funding from two principal donors, but no provision was made for its operating costs. The Institute currently generates operating income from teachings, donations, bookstore/webstore revenues, raffles/auctions, and rental of the facilities, but this income is not always adequate to cover costs. Fees at the Institute are intentionally kept low, so that people from all walks of life may participate and none will be excluded.

Our heartfelt desire is to perpetuate His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche's vision of maintaining The Garchen Institute as a teaching and retreat facility for many years to come. This will allow his beneficent teachings and the Drikung Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to continue and flourish in perpetuity.

Our goal is to create an endowment fund of $2 million dollars and use the annual interest income to help defray the ongoing operating expenses of the Institute.



Endowment Structure

Funds for the Endowment are mostly invested in a low-to-moderate risk investment portfolio with RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) at their Tucson, AZ office. A smaller portion of the fund-- the donations that have been received from monthly donors-- is in a savings account with Ashoka Credit Union in Boulder, Colorado.

No Endowment funds, other than minimal business and legal expenses, will be spent or distributed until the fund has reached our initial, $ 2 million goal. At that time, the Southwest Buddhafield Endowment will begin making periodic payments to the Garchen Institute, to help pay their operating expenses as per Garchen Rinpoche's wish. We will continue to build the fund indefinitely.

Our board of directors consists of five members: Cherie Ko serves as President; and Bill O’Brien serves as Vice-President; Terry Wu serves as Treasure.


The Endowment has also formed the Endowment Advisory Counsel which serves as a trusted input of knowledge, expertise and feedback, in a non-voting capacity, rather  in the spirit of trusted advisors to the Endowment board, enabling them to make the most informed decisions.


Ultimately, our mission is to serve Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche by securing the future of his precious land and center, the Garchen Buddhist Institute. You may have read Gar Rinpoche’s comments on the Endowment Fund. A video of this teaching, which was filmed with Rinpoche this past December at the stupa, available on DVD and on our website.



Board of Directors

Cherie Ko
first met Garchen Rinpoche during the White Tara Teaching in Los Angeles 2009 while she was pregnant with her youngest son. She has been a disciple of Garchen Rinpoche’s ever since. As a dedicated Buddhist and loving mother of her three kids: Gisele, Calista, and Oberon. She tries her best to practice dharma as much as time would allow. She attends the Yamantaka Retreat at least once a year. Before coming to America, she worked for an advertising agency and helped with various product marketing campaigns. She would like to use this opportunity to help promote the GBI and raise funds for the Endowment Fund. Hopefully, under Garchen Rinpoche's guidance, we can achieve our goals and benefit all Sentient Beings.


Cherie joined the Endowment in 2016 and serves as President.


Bill O'Brien
has been a dharma practitioner since 1996. Bill has received teachings from all 4 schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He met H.E. Garchen Rinpoche in 2001 and has since held him as his root lama. He has completed several Yamantaka drubchens and served as Chopon in 2011-2013. Bill has humbly served the Garchen Buddhist Institute in various capacities over the last decade. 


Bill has also served as the President of the Colorado Ratnashri Sangha in 2006, again from 2012-15 and has been a director of the Aurora Ratnashri Sangha since 2001. Bill works as a director of a engineering team for a large telecommunications company in the US. Bill is married with 2 children, Choying and Tsomo. 


Bill is a founding board member and serves as the Endowments Vice President.



Terry Wu
Terry Wu has been a long time student of Garchen Rinpoche and serves as the Treasurer of the Endowment. She joined the Board in 2016.












Advisory Counsel


The intent of the advisory counsel of to have a set of individuals that provide trusted counsel due to expertise or experieince in one or more areas. The advisory counsel doesn't have a set limit at this time and do not share any voting rights that full board members are privledged too. Individuals are selected by the Endowment Board by way of majority vote. 


Will Evans
has been a Buddhist practitioner for more than 25 years. His root teachers are Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche, whom he met in 1997. Will has served as the Endowment president for 10 Years and co-founded the Endowment back in 2006. Upon his retirement as President of the board in 2016, his dedication and service to the Endowment will continue as the Advisory counsels first member.


Will's aspiration for the rest of this life is to help Garchen Rinpoche in whatever way he can, and to eventually spend as much time as possible in retreat. He will continue his virtuous activities and fulfill his vision of installation of stones for the 37 Bodhisattavs Garden at the Garchen Buddhist Institute.